Vital Signs @ McKendree – Thursday: The Blood Part 1

Vital Signs @ McKendree – Thursday: The Blood Part 1

Today, our scientists delved into the study of blood type and the genetics that help determine it. Students first discovered the physical basis behind the ABO blood type group, analyzing different antigens. In the lab, they attempted to determine the blood type of different samples by creating antibody reactions.

The analysts-in-training also learned the basics of Mendelian genetics, discovering how blood type traits are inherited and why some are dominant over others.

Ask your student:

How many total possibilities are there for blood type? (there are 8 including both genes: A+/-, B+/-, AB+/-, and O+/-)

What is one method to predict the blood type of the offspring when you know that of the parents? (use a Punnett square)

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Vital Signs @ McKendree – Wednesday: Banana Sutures

Vital Signs @ McKendree – Wednesday: Banana Sutures

Today, our junior medical practitioners performed their first procedure! Students practiced sutures (or “stitches”) the same way that real doctors practice: on banana peels. They primarily investigated the layered nature of the skin, and how it relates to its main function: protection. Some students were surprised to learn that our skin is actually the largest organ in our bodies!

Our fledgling scientists will continue to use their rapidly developing medical skills in the days to come!

Ask your student:

What are the names of the three layers of the skin? (epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis)

What layer of the skin is the thickest? (hypodermis – 26 mm)

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Vital Signs @ McKendree – Tuesday: You’ve Got Heart!

Vital Signs @ McKendree – Tuesday: You’ve Got Heart!

Day 2 is over, and our daring dissectors have had an in-depth look at the workings of every mammal’s most important organ: the heart! During their exploration, students continued to recognize the relationship between structure and function that is present everywhere in biological structures. One student commented, “Every piece of the organ has a specific job, and everything is efficient!”

The scientists-in-training will continue to explore this connection between structure and function as the week goes on!

Ask your student:

What are the jobs of the atria and ventricles of the heart? (Atria take blood from body back into the heart; ventricles pump blood to lungs and then back to the body.)

What is the difference between a vein and an artery? (arteries carry blood away from the heart; veins carry blood to the heart)


Vital Signs @ McKendree: Chicken Wing Thing

Vital Signs @ McKendree: Chicken Wing Thing

On the first day of a jam-packed week, students delved into anatomy by learning the basics of dissection! Our budding scientists explored the structures of a chicken wing, discovering characteristics that are shared with the human arm. As they examined deeper levels of complexity during their dissection, they observed the interactions between systems and structures that allow the wing to function.

Students also learned how to preserve the bones of the chicken wing in order to use them in one of Friday’s lessons!

Ask your student:

What is the difference between the flexor and extensor muscles? (They work together to move the arm/wing, flexor curls the limb, extensor extends it)

What are the two bones of the lower arm/wing? (radius and ulna)


Skin models made by our Students!

Vital Signs Chicago – Rubber Bones

Vital Signs Chicago – Rubber Bones

What happens when you remove the calcium and collagen from bone? Wacky and rubbery bones.  Using vinegar and bleach-soaked chicken bones, our intrepid chemists were able to answer that question and so many more. In doing so, they explored acid-base reactions and how they relate to bone physiology.

“I’m going to think a lot differently when I’m choosing between soda and milk at lunch.” With the biological and chemical knowledge they’ve gained, and engineering and mathematical problems they’ve had to solve, the students had quite the vital week!

Vital Signs Chicago – Animatronic Extremity

Vital Signs Chicago – Animatronic Extremity

Throughout the week, the students have built a prototype animatronic model after their own hand. Today they took their prosthetic creation one step further and learned the scientific processes behind myoelectric prosthesis, which uses signals from muscles that contract voluntarily from within a person’s residual limb. Students put on their engineering hats and went to work on adjusting their prototype, then designing and creating iterations to meet various challenges, like racing to pick up, carry, and deliver a ping pong ball to a new location. It was awesome to see all of the different designs come to life – literally!


C.S.IMSA Chicago – Drops to DNA

C.S.IMSA Chicago – Drops to DNA

Today our CSI technicians began what will be a two day process to extract DNA from a broken vase found at the crime scene. In order to prepare themselves to discover what should be the most convincing piece of evidence, students learned about the extraction process by using their own DNA!

After their training, investigators are ready to process the last piece of evidence tomorrow!

Ask your student:

What was one substance you used in the extraction of your own DNA? (Gatorade, soap, meat tenderizer, alcohol)


Vital Signs: Chicago

Vital Signs Chicago: Reflexes and Reactions

The students tested their natural reflexes and reactions today. In this video, they are testing their object permanence. Ask your student how they did!



Vital Signs Chicago – Cardiovascular Disease

Vital Signs Chicago – Cardiovascular Disease

In this lesson, our young doctors modelled two different arterial pathways to introduce the complexity of angioplasty – the surgical repair or unblocking of a blood vessel. They not only built the models, but they also engineered model stents to clear a blocked artery.

By the end of the day, they each developed different applications of their models and were even able to explain how their products could be used to treat cardiovascular disease. Who knows? We could see one of these designs in the very near future!